Search IconSearch

Why You Should Take Your Blood Pressure at Home, and How To Do It

Stay on top of your health by monitoring your blood pressure regularly

A healthcare provider measures a person's blood pressure with a blood pressure monitor.

When it comes to keeping tabs on your health, your blood pressure is a vital sign of how you’re doing.


Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

If it’s too high or too low, it could be a sign there’s something off with your health and could lead to serious conditions like chronic kidney disease, stroke and heart disease.

In addition to getting your blood pressure checked at your doctor’s office, you can also monitor it at home.

Family medicine specialist Laura Distel, MD, shares with us why it’s important to take your blood pressure at home and how to do it.

Can you take your blood pressure at home?

Yes, you can take your blood pressure at home. If you’ve had high readings at your doctor’s office or are experiencing symptoms like blurry vision, lightheadedness or headaches, your doctor may suggest monitoring your blood pressure at home.

“One of the big reasons why is that we’re trying to rule out what we call white coat hypertension,” says Dr. Distel. “That’s when it’s high in the office, but normal at home. So, checking at home gives you a lot more information when trying to decide if someone should be on medication or needs to be treated in some way.”

But even if your readings at your doctor’s office are normal, Dr. Distel suggests taking your blood pressure at home to make sure it’s still in the safe range.

“Some people can average a higher blood pressure at home,” she says. “Checking it at home can help to get a better sense of where you’re at on average because if you only rely on the blood pressures in the office, that’s few and far between and you may be missing out on an opportunity to improve your health.”

How to take your blood pressure at home

What you do beforehand can affect your blood pressure readings. Your blood pressure may be high due to:

  • Stress.
  • Smoking.
  • Cold temperatures.
  • Exercise.
  • A full stomach.
  • A full bladder.
  • Caffeine.
  • Certain medications like decongestants and anti-inflammatories.

You can manually check your blood pressure at home or use an automated blood pressure machine that calculates your reading for you.

An automated blood pressure machine may be ideal for most, as it only requires one person to use it, provides accurate readings and is easy to use. You can find affordable blood pressure machines online and at most grocery stores or local pharmacies.


To take your blood pressure manually, you’ll need a blood pressure cuff with a squeezable balloon and a stethoscope.

Whatever method you use, before you take your blood pressure find a quiet place and sit still for about five minutes.

“Make sure you haven’t exercised or had caffeine or any kind of stimulant for about half an hour prior to checking your blood pressure,” advises Dr. Distel.

Sit at a table with both of your feet on the ground, legs uncrossed. Sit in a chair with back support so that you can lean back and relax. Place your arms up on the table so they’re at chest height.

Check that you have the right size cuff, too. You don’t want one too big or too small. Then, roll up the sleeve on your left arm or remove any tight-sleeved clothing, if needed.

How to take your blood pressure with a machine

  1. Turn the machine on. Press the power button and wait until the monitor is ready.
  2. Inflate the cuff. You may have to inflate by squeezing an attached balloon, but some models just require you to press a button. Inflate until the gauge reads about 30 points (mm Hg) above your normal blood pressure.
  3. Watch the monitor. Your blood pressure readings will display on the screen. Refer to the manual for information on how to read the numbers. You may hear a long beep, which indicates the reading is complete. Make a note of what the reading is while you wait for the cuff to deflate.

How to take your blood pressure manually

  1. Locate your pulse. You can do this by pressing your index and middle fingers on the inside bend of your elbow. You can also use a stethoscope in the same area.
  2. Inflate the cuff. Once the arm cuff is secure, squeeze the balloon to inflate the cuff until the gauge reads about 30 points (mm Hg) above your normal blood pressure. You should hear your pulse in the stethoscope while inflating.
  3. Slowly release pressure. While doing this, listen for the first pulse. When you hear it, make a note of the reading on the gauge. This will be your systolic pressure (the top number).
  4. Keep listening. As you completely deflate the cuff, you’ll notice that your pulse disappears. When this happens, make a note of this reading on the gauge. This is your diastolic pressure (the bottom number).


The best time to take your blood pressure

Take your blood pressure once in the morning and once in the evening. “Then, do two readings, at least a minute apart from each other,” instructs Dr. Distel. If your reading seems too high or too low, wait a few minutes and then try again.

Try getting in a routine, too, so you can notice any patterns or shifts in your results.

And you’ll want to record your readings in a journal or notebook. Write down the date, time of day, systolic and diastolic numbers, heart rate and which arm you took the reading on. This will help you notice changes.

Dr. Distel says you can also talk to your doctor about 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure monitoring. This device allows your blood pressure to be measured over a 24-hour period, even while you sleep.

“It takes your blood pressure every three to five minutes,” she adds. “If someone didn’t want to have to constantly check their own blood pressure it could be an option.”

What your readings mean

The top number refers to your systolic pressure, which is the force of the blood against the artery walls as your heart beats. The bottom number is your diastolic pressure, the blood pressure between heartbeats.

If the top number is 130 or more or if the bottom number is 80 or more, you should talk to your doctor, who can determine what lifestyle changes you need to make and if you need to take any medication.

“Over time, high blood pressure can lead to complications,” says Dr. Distel. “It can lead to chronic kidney disease, strokes, heart disease and eye problems.”

But with some simple changes like increasing exercise, eating a well-balanced diet, quitting smoking and reducing salt and alcohol, you may be able to lower your blood pressure.

“The biggest thing is lifestyle changes,” says Dr. Distel. “Try to lower your sodium or salt intake in your diet and increase your aerobic activity.”

To learn more about hypertension, listen to the Health Essentials Podcast episode, “Combating High Blood Pressure.” New episodes of the Health Essentials Podcast publish every Wednesday.


Learn more about our editorial process.

Related Articles

Person lifting barbell in gym at night, with clock on wall
July 23, 2024/Exercise & Fitness
Does It Matter What Time of Day You Exercise?

Factors like temperature, energy levels and sleep quality play a role in determining whether working out in the morning or evening is best for you

Smiling pregnant person speaking with healthcare provider in medical office
June 14, 2024/Heart Health
Why Your Heart Needs Special Attention When You’re Pregnant

Obesity, age and preexisting heart conditions can all raise your risk of cardiovascular disease during pregnancy

Bowl of artificial sweetener with a spoonful
June 7, 2024/Heart Health
Eating Foods With Xylitol Can Be a Risk to Your Heart

Xylitol in processed food can increase risk of heart attack and stroke — but there’s no danger in xylitol in oral care products

Person standing in kitchen holding glass of water in one hand and medication in the other
May 31, 2024/Heart Health
How To Get Rid of Chest Pain at Home

If your provider has ruled out a serious cause, you can treat chest pain at home with antacids, inhalers or anti-inflammatory medications

Hand holding cellphone with walking app, with feet walking and footprints
May 17, 2024/Exercise & Fitness
Should You Aim To Walk 10,000 Steps a Day?

Walking is a great goal, but how many steps are best for you depends on factors like your fitness level and age

Healthcare provider listening to a patient's heart with stethoscope in exam room
Is Joint Pain Linked to Heart Disease?

Research shows a strong association between rheumatoid arthritis and heart issues

Heart-healthy foods in a heart-shaped dish on wooden table with other heart-shaped filled bowls
April 26, 2024/Nutrition
Heart-Healthy Foods To Add to Your Grocery List

Eating more natural, whole foods can lower your risk of heart and cardiovascular diseases

Person reclining on couch wearing compression socks
April 3, 2024/Heart Health
How To Raise Your Blood Pressure Immediately at Home

First things first — slowly sit or lie down

Trending Topics

Female and friend jogging outside
How To Increase Your Metabolism for Weight Loss

Focus on your body’s metabolic set point by eating healthy foods, making exercise a part of your routine and reducing stress

stovetop with stainless steel cookware and glassware
5 Ways Forever Chemicals (PFAS) May Affect Your Health

PFAS chemicals may make life easier — but they aren’t always so easy on the human body

jar of rice water and brush, with rice scattered around table
Could Rice Water Be the Secret To Healthier Hair?

While there’s little risk in trying this hair care treatment, there isn’t much science to back up the claims